Monday, February 2, 2009

How Are We To Live? Part-2 (The Fall)

As I stated in Part-1, one aspect of Adam’s being a type of Christ is his humanity. As a type of Christ, Adam’s created “perfection” was his authentic humanity. But then…The Fall.

What really happened in The Fall that would require the coming of the Son of God? What changes occurred in man? in Creation? Many volumes have been written on the subject of The Fall and it’s not my purpose here to go into each and every facet of the consequences of The Fall. One thing we can say in general is that the affect of the curse is cosmic in scope—it affects all of Creation. Where there once was harmony and peace in the world (Shalom), now estrangement and death characterizes God’s “very” good creation. Where there was once intimacy between God and man, there is now separation, distance. The entrance of sin brought a curse that affects (or better, perhaps, infects) every aspect of the created order. (For a more detailed treatment of the effect of The Fall see SGCC Sermon Series “Roman Excurses”) One thing we can say in particular is that because of the entrance of sin, the essential nature of man has been damaged—not destroyed, but damaged. Cornelius Plantinga uses the phrase, “The Vandalism of Shalom” to describe the cosmic effect of sin. This phrase is appropriate for the consequences that have come to man—our essential nature as human beings who bear the image of God has been “vandalized”. We still bear the image of our Creator, but that image is marred because we’ve become less than human—the “perfection” of humanity has been damaged. As with the rest of creation, we as human beings, to borrow again from Plantinga, are “not what we’re supposed to be”.

Man was created with a certain design for a certain function—we are “image-bearers”, designed to live as “sons”. We are image-sons—this is our “humanity”. As “image-sons”, we enjoyed intimate communion with our Father in the “heaven” of our Garden-Paradise: God dwelt with His people! And through us, the rest of creation also “enjoyed” intimate communion with its Creator as we faithfully carried out our responsibility as “sons of God”; cultivating Creation (Sacred Space—God’s Dwelling Place) and building the City of God on the earth according to our cultural mandate. Shalom reigned as God’s creation “lived” together in harmony; each aspect of creation “living for” the universal flourishing of the whole in intimate communion with God through His intimate communion with “man” (as man faithfully “cared for” creation as its “steward/ruler”).

This shalom, however, this harmonious “wholeness” of existence within the created order has been broken by The Fall. The curse has brought estrangement to all of the relationships within the created order: God and man (and as a result, God and the created order), man and man, man and himself, man and the created order. Shalom has been “vandalized”. The “life” of harmony, the “universal flourishing” that once characterized God’s “very” good creation has been spoiled. The “death” of estrangement now affects (because it infects) every aspect of creation. Sacred Space (see SGCC Sermon Series “God With Us”) has been lost and is now in need of recovery. Creation needs Recovery! Creation needs Redemption!

As human beings, we no longer live according to our created design and function. We see this clearly when we turn on the television, when we read the newspapers, as we simply look around us…at our jobs, at the grocery store, in the malls, in our own homes, etc., and as we look inside ourselves as we struggle to do what we know is right. What Paul says is true of us in Romans 1 we know innately: we’re “not the way we’re supposed to be”! We’re still “image-bearers”; we’re still “image-sons”. We can’t just relinquish the reality of who we are (a concept that we’ll return to later when we look at the “re-creation” of the New Covenant)—it’s not in our power. But even though we’re still “image-bearers” by creation, this is not what characterizes us because we fail to live into that reality anymore. And this is true because our essential nature has been changed—not destroyed, but damaged or “vandalized” by sin. Sin has entered the equation and so the Bible speaks of our needing a new nature: we must be “Born Again”. For us to once again be truly “human” (or, to be more biblically accurate and precise: For man to finally be fully human), Christ had to come as the True Man to take away sin, reverse the curse and restore God’s “very” good creation. Since Adam and the rest of Creation was only typological and spoke of the state of all things as they will be “summed up in Christ”, only in Christ, then, does man become fully human. Only in so far as the TRUE MAN, Jesus Christ, redeems an individual does that individual become what he/she was created to be. To paraphrase Philip Hughes, man only becomes fully and truly man when joined by the Spirit to the True Man, Jesus Christ. The destiny of humanity is found only in Christ.

Much, much more could be said about this, but my goal is not to write an exhaustive Christology or anthropology; that’s already been done masterfully and without equal by Philip E. Hughes (The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ). My goal is simply to give a general overview in order to help us better understand what has happened to us in Christ. I want us to begin to comprehend the transformation that has taken place in us with the coming of Christ so that we live into the freedom that is our inheritance as “sons of God”. If our mentality as Christians is that our “obedience” is something that we must now do in order to be pleasing to God (or as some would have it, in order to stay in relationship with God) rather than something that we must be (which is the work of the Spirit in us), then I’m afraid that we’ve simply renamed and redesigned the same yoke of the Pharisees that Jesus has freed us from.

Why do we insist on putting the yoke of the Pharisees on again? Because we still don’t fully believe the Gospel. Oh, we believe enough of it to be “saved”, but we effectively deny its power when we separate sanctification from the Gospel, when we live as though our sanctification is a work that we must do. Like the Pharisees, we simply refuse to listen to Moses (and the Law, the Prophets and the Writings) and believe! We don’t believe God, so we put the “yoke” of performance back on our shoulders and we trudge around day after day with our never-ending and never-completed checklists hoping against hope that we’ve done enough to please our Father today. Is this how Christ lived His life? Is this the life of Christ in us? Is this the “freedom” that has been granted to us in Christ?

Next time, Lord-willing, we’ll catch a brief glimpse of what really took place with the coming of Christ. Something really did happen to us (to all of creation) in this redemption that has come in Christ. The Gospel is much more than “fire insurance” or a “life insurance policy”. Among other things we could say about it, the Gospel is transformative! Where there once was “death”, there now is “life”—what is more “transforming” than Life out of Death?! Amen?!

13 comments:

satire and theology said...

'As human beings, we no longer live according to our created design and function.'

Yes, a tarnished but not obliterated image of God within humanity.

'Sin has entered the equation and so the Bible speaks of our needing a new nature: we must be “Born Again”. For us to once again be truly “human” (or, to be more biblically accurate and precise: For man to finally be fully human), Christ had to come as the True Man to take away sin, reverse the curse and restore God’s “very” good creation.'

Yes, and we await this culminated restoration through the resurrection.

Mr. Worm said...

Oooh! Lovely! Thanks for the great post! I put part of your post on my blog (hope you don't mind) with a link to your post :-)

Thanks again!

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks Russ,

A proper understanding of the importance and significance of the resurrection (Christs' first, and then ours) is really essential to a proper understanding of the fulness of what was accomplished in Christ at His first coming. Gaffin has a splendid treatment on the Resurrection (as does Williams, though his is a very brief account in his book, "Far As The Curse is Found").

Thanks Mr. Worm,

You can copy and paste to your hearts delight (or until you can't see anymore underneath that rug that seems to be growing uncontrollably). :-)

Abbey said...

PREACH IT, BRO! :D

Really, great post. It's great to have you there making us review these things over and over...maybe I'll finally remember someday.

Funny how we're all talking about the same things. I've been posting these things just because I'm testing to see if I really have enough I could say for the "special Sunday." :S Honest, I didn't read yours first to get an idea for my blog. Sorry if it seems like I was copying. Yours is in so much more detail than mine. I'm just not patient enough to write it all out. lol

BTW, thanks for the comment on my blog. If you want to comment on any of the other comments on that post (or any other post for that matter), be my guest. :D

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"Sorry if it seems like I was copying"

Oh, I wasn't thinking that, of course. I just thought it was pretty cool that we're both considering the same kind of idea-and reaching similar conclusions!

BTW-I know that you're not...well...let's just say that I know that you're not as verbose as I am (who is, right?); but if you decided to participate in the "special sunday", one quick look at your blog tells me that you have plenty to say and would have no problem filling up 5 minutes or so!

I'm still considering whether or not to say anything. Maybe I'll just get up there and direct people to my blog, say thanks and "Amen" and sit down. That would leave more time for everyone else to speak, right? :-)

No classes this week, so we'll...

...see 'ya Sunday!

GGM

Abbey said...

Yeah, I've pretty much decided to participate. I really don't get scared to get up and talk, but I get scared I'll say something that PC will be shocked by. lol Maybe I'll just memorize a paragraph of his notes and get up and say that. :D Actually, I like the idea of just directing people to a blog - I write way better than I talk. I'll direct people, take an offering, have an invitation, then sit down (just so it doesn't seem like I'm quite copying you). :P

You didn't do the Sacred Space series, so now you've got to do this one. :) No actually, you can probably get away not doing it just because you do it pretty much every week.

Greg said...

Hey, GGM. In our weekly Bible study, we watched a video in which the speaker stated that since God knew that man would sin, that it was all part of His perfect plan, which implies that the final state of humanity will be better than if Adam and Eve had never sinned. Interesting concept, huh?

Indeed, since Adam and Eve did not know good from evil, can it be said that they were truly loving God, from their free will? If you have a weakness for donuts, and there is a piping-fresh box of them from Krispy Kreme, on top of the fridge, but you don't know it, are you displaying true victory over that temptation, just becuase you're not eating them? No. True victory comes from being tempted and allowing the Holy Spirit to empower you to overcome it.

I go further, to say that with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, we can become more than what we were at creation. The serpent was right when he said that eating from the forbidden tree would make them like God, but he neglected to mention that even though they would get some of God's knowledge, they would not receive a matching portion of power to deal with that knowledge. That power came only after day of Pentecost, described in Acts.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"...since God knew that man would sin, that it was all part of His perfect plan, which implies that the final state of humanity will be better than if Adam and Eve had never sinned. Interesting concept, huh?"

As you can tell from the first two posts in this series and from previous posts, this is pretty much how I understand the Scripture as well. Without trying to debate the details of the Foreknowledge of God or the extent of His Sovereignty (I believe that God's Sovereignty is "determinative", but in no way acts against man's "free will" properly understood), the Bible expresses the purpose of God for Creation (including man) as only being fulfilled as the result of the redeeming work of Christ.

The "perfection" of God's creation (including man) simply refers to the "completeness of purpose" (I forget who said it this way, but it works). Since "man", "Eden" and the rest of creation was typological by God's design and spoke of a greater reality to come, we can say that Adam was not yet fully human apart from the Person and Work of Christ and the subsequent arrival of the Spirit. Now theologians can debate the hypothetical all they want, i.e., whether or not man would have entered into this state if Adam had not eaten of the forbidden fruit (passed the test). I don't care to engage in such silliness because the Scripture is clear that God's purpose from eternity is the redemption of His creation in the "summing up of all things in the heavens and earth in Christ". Since God's purpose from the beginning was the establishment of Sacred Space throughout the earth in the Kingdom of God presided over by His Son (the Seed of the Serpent, the Seed of Abraham, the "David" to come, the Servant, the Disciple, the "Branch", the true "Israel", the Son of God, etc.) which "Eden" and "Adam" only typified, then we can at least say that Adams "perfection", while suitable for the time, spoke of the greater and complete "perfection" to come in the True Man; and all who are joined to the True Man are "restored" to (or better, completed in) their true humanity. The purpose of God for all things is only fulfilled in connection with the subject of the Scripture--Christ, the Son of God.

GGM

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"Indeed, since Adam and Eve did not know good from evil, can it be said that they were truly loving God, from their free will?"

"Free will" is a very complex subject. Many people hate Calvinism because they think it reduces people to mere robots without "free will". I don't think so at all.

There is definitely a tension between God's sovereignty and man's "free will", but that does not mean that they are contradictory ideas that cannot exist in harmony with each other. There are many, many books on the subject; I recommend Luther's, "The Bondage of the Will" and Edwards', "The Freedom of the Will" for a good understanding of how our will is "free".

All I can say for sure is that we always do exactly what we want at all times. Is this "free will"? Yes! Is God sovereign over the decisions that I make? Yes! How does this work? I'm not sure...I'm still slowly getting my arms around this slowly (did I mention this is a "slow" process? :-), but I will not abandon one for the other because the Bible speaks of both.

I'm not really concerned with the supposed dilemma of "free will"; I don't need to "figure it out" to be satisfied. I know what God expects of me as His child in Christ. I just need to be true and faithful to the God who has "delivered me from the domain of darkness and into the marvelous light of the Kingdom of His Son!" :-)

Adam "freely" chose to do what he did--he exercised his "free will". But it was all "According to Plan" (to borrow from Goldsworthy) as God intended to fulfill His purpose for His creation to "sum up all things in Christ".

GGM

Great Googly Moogly! said...

"I go further, to say that with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, we can become more than what we were at creation."

I agree...but not necessarily "more", just "completed". Adam was "perfect" for his purpose as a type. The "moreness" that I would agree with is the idea that we become fully human only in connection to Christ by the indwelling Spirit. I think I agree with what you're saying, I just don't want to say that Adam was "less than perfect", or that he didn't have something that was necessary for his relationship with God at the time.

Of course, there's no way around the fact that God's purpose for His creation wasn't ultimately fulfilled at any time until the coming of Christ; but everything was always perfect "in its time" because God was directing all things toward the goal of...you guessed it..."the summing up of all things in heavens and earth in Christ"! You knew I'd find a place to throw that in there, didn't you? :-)

Thanks Greg!

GGM

satire and theology said...

'A proper understanding of the importance and significance of the resurrection (Christs' first, and then ours) is really essential to a proper understanding of the fulness of what was accomplished in Christ at His first coming.'

Yes of course, doctrines concerning the resurrection and the atonement in regard to Christ his work and believers is essential.

thekingpin68 said...

My Shelfari Bookshelf

A lot of times when I do the random next blogger search I run into the Shelfari Bookshelf type thing. It is often located near a certain Salt Lake temple logo...lol.

It is good to see you are different.:)

I am tired...1000 pages of photocopying for my PhD lately.

satire and theology said...

I have some jazz-fusion for you.

Russ...